Saturday, 21 December 2013

Today's Reality

 Ralph Waldo Emerson was most 

lucid in his thinking that, 'To the dull 

mind, all nature is leaden. To the 

illumined mind the whole world 

burns and sparkles with light.' I 

quite agree, even more so in 2013 

roughly two years after 

meeting this 25 years old stellar 

native of Oyo State  Kehinde Fawumi, . It was August 2011 and I was about signing off Facebook for 

the day when I got his message requesting that I make entries for his 2011 Essay Competition, Project 

Write2Win, and book project Tomorrow's Reality Today. I was thrilled. Little did I know that I was 

on to such a revolutionary young man who would lead my thoughts and inspire my efforts in so many 

phenomenal directions through his remarkable lifestyle. A couple of years later, he has grown in leaps 

and bounds with his tentacles spread beyond Africa. Fortunately, I have the gist first hand.

What is Kehinde Fawumi’s story and where is he coming from?
Just as I became conscious of myself, I battled typical purpose-inhibitors and childhood illusions. Daddy lost his job early in life, so I had to be schooled in the very public – public schools. I hail from Ibadan, Oyo State from an around-the-middle family. My life has outright been a product of victories over battles of mediocrity, status-quo and peer delimitations. I had no access to the luxuries of life. However, I saw my mild-plight as a reason for me to pay the price. I paid it...fully!
Today, Kehinde is a celebrated Nigerian social entrepreneur who has represented the country on various international platforms and won many honours and awards. He is currently reading for his Masters in Computer Science at Technical University-Munich, Germany. He also works with FUJITSU, Germany on Global Innovations and Business-Process Improvement. People say he is a polymath. He was recently listed among the top 30 young people Africans should look up to.
2    What is your academic background?
Basically, I hold a B Sc. in Computer Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. I am also certifies in a couple of Management and computing professional courses.
What inspired your giant leap?
My determination to be great! I was not ready to settle for a low life. I once read that it takes about the same effort to be successful as it takes to be a failure. So, why not be very successful if I can! Greatness is not in places, it is in people!
4.      Please give a brief run down and description of the projects you have been involved in and coordinated?

As an undergraduate, I led a number of initiatives focused on making youths act collaboratively with great enthusiasm, hope, confidence and commitment to solve the problems of youth unemployment and poverty in Nigeria and beyond. In a space of four years, I was president of three students’ organizations where many of these projects were implemented.
I founded Total Youth Empowerment Scheme (TYES), in 2008 in OAU. Since 2005, TYES trains youths across the Nation every four months, and we've trained over 3,500 youths in 10 states in Nigeria.
I also have Trendsetter Technologies as a brain child. I lead a team of web designers and programmers that develop socially-responsible computer and mobile applications.

5      What challenges have you encountered so far and how did you overcome them?
Nothing ever triumphs without trials and there is no progress without process. I have been maligned and humiliated by friends who did not believe in me. Ultimately, God has always been strength at weakest times.  Success is not when you are approved or praised by others, rather, it is when you keep up your conviction and enthusiasm in the face of failure and rejection!
Other major challenges relate to implementing my Project - FeedOne. First was to convince myself about the need for the project. Many times I asked myself: Why should I keep doing this? What do I really gain from it?
A secondary effect of this is my inability to (initially) convince other people to join me in the project. So I had to talk to myself over and again, answering all questions that popped up and make resolute determination to give my passion to the vision. When the vision became clear to me it was easy to carry others along.
Secondly, it takes a lot to harness enough resources to reach my high-sounding goals. It is tasking to convince people to contribute their hard-earned resources to support some people they do not know. For me I simply told people how much I have given to my project by myself, told them compelling success stories of people who have been transformed from little projects and the rest was easy. People started believing me and gave to the project.
“If I will commit to charity, I must be the first to giveSince my undergraduate days, I gave a good percentage of all my earnings to charity”.
 How do you balance your projects with your academics?
Keeping up with time and schedules is quite challenging for me.
Essentially, I keep a daily schedule and try to stay strictly by it. I also use a lot of tools...and people to help with tasks I can delegate. Ultimately, discipline and a deep sense of responsibility will always help you triple your efficiency as they did mine.
Have you ever had one of those solo moments- when it’s just you against the rest of the world?
Yes I have. Whenever you are trying to do something remarkable, you will have lots of detractors. But for me these solo moments are also my reflecting moments; therein I build confidence, conviction and determination to follow through with my passion and vision.
8.      There is this buzz about your project in December. Can you please shed more light on it?
On 21st December, FeedOne Project will reach out to over 4,000 families in Lagos, Akure and Ile-Ife. This is in collaboration with Eleven32, Project Xtrude and Octolinks. It will be the biggest one-day event we ever did and we are currently open to donations and support of any kind. Over 500 less-privileged children will also receive educational scholarships and feeding allowances.
This event will also focus on solving social problems in each community we will visit. Some of these are: clearing refuse dumps causing environmental pollution; cleaning the streets; identifying some dirty houses and washing them; distributing detergents and toiletries to houses; gathering children and making/barbing their hair and cutting their nails; medical check-ups for the old and young; distributing food and materials to families etc.

What plans do you have for 2014, God giving us life?
I will write over 10 pages if I should start listing my plans. Just to mention, as regards Feedone project; my team and I will fully establish a social business in Lagos Nigeria to sustain the project. The overall vision of the project is to reach 1million less-privileged by the year 2020. As it stands, we are convinced we have the grace to achieve this.
Is Kehinde seeing someone?
I am seeing people...smiles. I am in a relationship with the most beautiful and well-behaved lady in the world!
Who do you read and what are you reading now?
I read mostly inspirational books and autobiographies of impactful leaders. I learn from the way these heroes perceived life and how they overcame their challenges. I am currently reading “How to get from where you are to where you want to be” by Jack Canfield.
Why are you so positive that things will get better in Nigeria?
I believe that Nigeria will rise. Sooner than we envisaged, Nigeria will become one of the most desirable countries in Africa, and in the world. I sense so much energy and grace coming-up from the teenagers and youth. I’ve been to many countries and continents but the passion in the Nigerian youth is incomparable to none else.
However, things will not get better by chance; but by incremental non-relenting positive changes! Everyone must think and act positive towards the uplifting of the Nation.
What is your advice for the youths of Africa?
You need no permission from anyone to perform. So start out now. Grasp the positive and be positive. Never sacrifice your conviction for addictions; don’t trade God for gold, don’t lose your commitments to convenience. Keep enviable values with unshaken enthusiasm. Shun negative emotions. Live a life that counts. Spend quality time to discover yourself.
Most definitely, discipline and self-knowledge will direct you to living the ‘right life’ that you deserve. The things you learn to do, you learn them by doing them. So start doing something. Start Acting! At the end of the day, all we have is who we are, all that matters is: those who lived because you cared.
Today, Kehinde Fawumi amongst others made history in Lagos, Ife and Akure. They alongside several other African youths take the bull by the horn to make a difference in our world. Then again, there is only so much they can do in their number without the support of more individuals, organisations, the government and international community.
The future of the African dream lies in the audacious steps and efforts of today's reality. The reality that a child sleeps happily right now because she had a hearty dinner. The reality that a single mother has been empowered with a skill. The reality that our wonderful kids can go to school; that our people will have access to more love, health care and information. Someday, I hope. Someday, Social Entrepreneurship shall be taken more seriously by our community.
There are countless social courses to take up. So many tears to wipe away. Let us come alive in our being human and be more than just a number. Let us be audaciously humane in our being human. 
I am proud of Kenny. So proud of him. I do hope that more African youths see the need, just as Kenny, to be African Solutions to African Challenges.
In this season of giving, I urge that we put a smile on as many faces as possible as we bring more warmth to the lives of those around us. I do wish you all happy holidays and I hope that this phenomenal season shall have a mind-blowing impact. Merry Christmas.

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